Filter Maintenance Along With Water Change

by Jun 21, 202210 comments

Can We Do Filter Maintenance Along With Water Change?

Contrary to popular practice, some hobbyists will say that you cannot perform filter maintenance along with your water change schedule. This happened to me on some occasions due to scheduling conflicts or unforeseen circumstances. That you may kill or wash away a significant amount of your beneficial bacteria when doing so. The only way for this to happen is by using chlorinated tap water or drying out your biological media, or your primary filter is just a sponge filter. Those are sure-fire ways to kill or wash away a lot of your good bacteria.

You have the resource that you can use to clean your filter and media without killing your good bacteria and keep them wet and submerged, and that is your old tank water. So in this article, we will shed light on this topic and guide you on how to properly do this series of tasks.

Table of Contents

Filter Maintenance Along with Water Change
You Have the Resource
How I Do It?
Water Change Tasks
Filter Maintenance Tasks
Wrapping Up
Myth Busting and More Tips
Conclusion

While the most obvious disadvantage is you have many tasks to do, you can still do both subsequently in just under an hour. One advantage of this is you can use the old tank water extracted from your water change to rinse/clean your filter, filter media, and its accessories/parts, not compromising your good bacteria.

In my case, I have a canister filter. I usually do my filter maintenance every 1-2 months especially when I noticed that the flow rate starts to decrease and my inline CO2 diffuser is producing big bubbles already.

My Canister Filter

My Canister Filter

Just keep in mind that you keep your filter media wet and submerge using old tank water extracted during your water change. Wash and rinse your mechanical media (foams, filter floss, polyester pillow stuffings, etc.) with old tank water.

Clean your filter and hoses, in my case, my Canister filter with the same old tank water. Arrange your filter media back and quickly to avoid drying them out.

Note, this applies to HOB, internal, and Canister filters only. Trickle and sump filters have a different kind of maintenance and are very far apart in between schedules. They typically have easy access to their mechanical filtration part and those media are the only ones that you need to wash or replace (foams, filter floss, polyester pillow stuffing, etc.), leaving your biological media alone for many months to years.

The different types of filters that we can use in our planted aquariums are discussed in this series of articles, go here.

Let me share with you my routine and how I do both (usually I do this near the end of the photoperiod and the CO2 injection is already off):

1. Turn off your filter, CO2 injection/solenoid, surface skimmer, and internal pumps if there are any.

Front View During Water Change 25 %

Front View During Water Change 25 % of approximately 35 gallons

Top View During Water Change 25 %

Top View During Water Change 25 %

2. Perform your water siphoning according to how much percentage of water volume you want to change. While you are at it, vacuum your substrate as well. You may want to vacuum your mosses as well. You will be surprised how much debris, detritus, etc. are in your mosses (try to disturb the water around them, and you will see what I mean). They act as mechanical filters for small to medium particulates, dead organic matter, fish food, etc., in our planted aquariums.

3. Put the extracted water into pails or a big water basin.

Siphoning my Substrate and Carpet Plants

Siphoning my Substrate and Carpet Plants

Trimming my Mosses while siphoning them

Trimming my Mosses while siphoning them

Extracted water from a Water Change into a Basin

Extracted water from a Water Change into a Basin

4. I don’t fill up the tank yet with new water usually, but I turn on my aquarium fan to provide water surface agitation for my faunas. Depending on your filter type, this may take considerably more time compared to just a water change schedule. You can also choose to fill up your tank with new chlorine-free water. It is totally up to you.

5. Next, dismantle your filter. Only rinse your biological filter media and submerged them in the extracted water earlier. Do not use your fingers, or any abrasives, toothbrush, just rinse them with old tank water. Please watch the video below for more details.

6. Wash, squeeze, and rinse your mechanical media (foams, filter floss, polyester pillow stuffings, etc.) with old tank water. Do this in a dipper or separate basin to avoid clouding the water in the big basin where your biological media are and avoid the nasties getting into your biological media.

7. Clean the inside walls of your filter and hoses with the same old tank water. For hoses, you can use hose brush cleaners.

8. Assemble your filter media back into the filter quickly to avoid drying them out.

Keeping my Biological media wet using old tank water during water change

Keeping my Mechanical and Biological media wet using old tank water during a water change

My Filter Tubings starting to get dirty

My Filter Tubings starting to get dirty

My Tube Cleaning Brush

My Tube Cleaning Brush

After cleaning the inside walls of my Canister Filter

After cleaning the inside walls of my Canister Filter

9. I added more water from my tank, not from the water basin, to submerge my filter media during assembly. The old tank water in the basin is too disturbed with all the nasties floating around from the earlier tasks. Set it aside for now. If you have a HOB filter, Overhead filter, sponge filter, internal filter, etc., you can already set them up in the tank.

10. I fill my tank with new water. I remineralize it beforehand because I am using RO/DI water. Skip this if you’d fill up your tank in step # 4.

11. Next is to set up my Canister filter in its original position, insert the hoses, and then position the intake and outtake.

12. Turn on the filter, surface skimmer, and pumps if there’re any, and enjoy your hard work.

Assembling My Canister Filter and its Media Trays

Assembling My Canister Filter and its Media Trays

Maintaining Your Filter Along With Water Change 1080p. Please like and subscribe!

Others may say that you still might wash away a lot of your beneficial bacteria when you rinse or squeeze your mechanical media (foams, filter floss, etc.) with old tank water. That makes sense if you only have sponge filters as your primary filtration. Where the meager turnover rates, and only occurs in the sponge part, ensures that your good bacteria only colonize in the sponge part.

For other filters, most of your good bacteria are living in your biological media, hardscape, substrate, etc. Basically, everything that is submerged in your tank can be home to your beneficial bacteria, as long as there is sufficient flow and oxygen.

Another important question is: How about those small/nano tanks where you don’t have enough old tank water to maintain your filter? Just use non-chlorinated water sources like deep-well or stock tap water that you let the chlorine evaporate for days.

Conclusion:

You can do your filter maintenance along with your water change with little to no compromise of your beneficial bacteria. In this article, we discussed the subsequent tasks on how to properly perform both your filter maintenance and water change. This applies to most of the filter types except trickle and sump filters.

Always, keep in mind that you keep your filter media wet and submerge using old tank water extracted during your water change. Wash and rinse your mechanical media (foams, filter floss, polyester pillow stuffings, etc.) with old tank water.

Want to Explore More?

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Where to Place a Planted Aquarium at Home

Planted aquariums require less work to maintain (once you find the balance of everything) but need more work to set up for the first time. So we need to plan for it properly. Most importantly, we need to consider the ideal location of the tank at our home. So in this article, I will walk you through all the considerations on deciding where to place a planted aquarium at home. After this, we will determine the dimensions of the tank that can fit in your desired location.

Fishless Method – How to Cycle a Planted Aquarium

It is called the Fishless Method of Tank Cycling, which is self-explanatory. We will cycle our planted aquariums with no fish. We don’t have to be worried about any of our faunas anymore if they will survive the fish-in cycling.

But where will the Ammonia be coming from (if there are no fish) for the Nitrogen Cycle to start?

Minerals – The Planted Aquarium Water Parameters

Hardness/softness is the measure of dissolved minerals in the water. But although pH and hardness are different water parameter measurements, they are closely linked to each other.

pH is the measure of the acidity and basicity of your water.

What to Look for in a Planted Aquarium Filter

Having plants in an aquarium is not a justification for having no filtration. The plants cannot do it alone, even in the most natural of systems. Mother Nature even has its natural filters so glorifying those planted aquariums without filters is not good. We are replicating how Nature does it after all. So choosing your filter is very critical.

Iwagumi Aquascaping Style

The Iwagumi style is a sub-type of the Nature style we discussed earlier that incorporates the same core principles of Japanese gardening techniques. It is derived from the Japanese art of stone appreciation, Suiseki

It is a style that is characterized by its daring stone formations, elegance, simplicity of open space with carpeting plants only, and dedication to conveying a natural and tranquil setting.

10 Comments

  1. John

    Thanks for the insightful guide on cleaning the tank. Really useful to know that you can do it without losing too much of the helpful bacteria that will keep your tank healthy.

    Reply
    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hello John,

      Thank you for visiting my website and appreciating my post. Please stay tuned for more articles/videos coming soon. I hope in some way or two, I was able to help you in your decision to keep a planted aquarium in your very own home. I can’t wait to hear about your experiences and what you can come up with.

      Reply
  2. William

    Hey Lemuel, wow I learned a lot. Very complete and detailed approach to ‘Filter Maintenance and Water Change’. Its been many years since I had an aquarium, but I used to be quite an aficionado.
    Anyone needing to clean their tanks, filters, etc will definitely benefit from this post.
    Your photos make the instruction very easy to follow.

    Reply
    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hello William,

      Thank you for stopping by my website and appreciating this post. Indeed you can do both subsequently without harming the population of your good bacteria that keeps our planted aquarium stable. I hope in some ways or two, I was able to help you in your decision to keep a planted aquarium in your very own home. I can’t wait to hear about your experiences and what you can come up with.

      Reply
  3. Chastity

    Hi Lemuel,

    Thank you so much for all of the great information to change tank water and filter maintenance together. I do love seeing the live-plant tanks, but do not personally have a tank for plants or fish. I have in the past but never attempted to have live plants. Your pictures really help reinforce what you are saying in the post.

    Thank you,
    Chastity

    Reply
    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hello Chastity,

      Thank you for visiting my site and sharing your experience with your aquarium. I hope in some ways or two, I was able to help you in your decision to keep a planted aquarium in your very own home. I can’t wait to hear about your experiences and what you can come up with. If you need help, just contact us.

      Reply
  4. Oliver Brown

    Hi Lemuel,

    This was a great read and it’s always good to learn something new every day. This is a very comprehensive and detailed review of Water and Filter maintenance. I don’t have an aquarium myself but I’ve been considering on for some time in the future when I get my office sorted out. This guide will come in handy for the future when I need to maintain a planted aquarium. I also love the pictures in this post so I could understand and follow it with ease.

    Reply
    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hello Oliver,

      Thank you for visiting my website and appreciating this post. I am glad you already have plans to keep a planted aquarium on your future office. I can’t wait to hear about your experiences and what you can come up with. If you need help or have some questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      Reply
  5. Maylynn aka: DragonBlue

    Wow! You have a very professional and informative site. It looks like you have put a lot of work into your information and put a lot of work into your aquarium on a regular basis. Good effort on your newsletter sign up pop up too. I found this article very informative, and attractive to look at. You have done a good job with the layout and the information provided. I will be back soon to see more!

    Peace Out~
    )O(
    DragonBlue

    Reply
    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hello Maylynn,

      Thank you for the feedback on my website and for appreciating this article. Yes, the first few months from setting up your planted aquarium, and waiting for it establish, you may encounter some ups and downs. But once it is established, all you need to do is just once a week 25 to 50 % water change and some trimming of the plants here and there. You will learn a lot along the way about the intricacies of an enclosed ecosystem and how nature does it as well.

      That is the goal at least, to finally enjoy looking at your planted aquarium/s and not make it a chore to maintain. The articles here are in sequence and you’ve got to learn as a beginner to advance.

      So thank you for visiting my website. I hope in some way or two, I was able to help you in your decision to keep a planted aquarium in your very own home. I can’t wait to hear about your experiences and what you can come up with.

      Reply

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